Sometimes, we hear homeschool parents talk about homeschooling “independently” — basically, on their own. Other times, students are home educated via enrollment in a private school.
What does this mean?
It is important to note that laws vary from state to state. What you are about to read may be interpreted differently depending upon where you live. (Always read state laws and consult other local homeschoolers if you aren’t sure.)
Where I currently homeschool (Florida), laws allow for learning at home in 2 different ways: independent homeschooling or via private school. Our laws are very clear, and families must choose one way or the other (click HERE to read Florida’s education statutes). When Florida families choose independent homeschooling, they file a notice of intent to homeschool, and select whatever materials they like to direct the education from home. If Florida families elect to register children with a private school, they can choose any private school they like, but agree the school now calls the shots. In my state, this is a legal difference, and an important one at that. In fact, Florida private school students are legally considered “private school students” — not really “homeschoolers” at all.
Other states have similar laws to mine. Maine operates like this, as well (education code HERE).
In comparison, California takes a different approach. California families have the option of establishing a private school with the purpose of homeschooling. Parents themselves may file to have a home education program recognized as a private school. California residents must file an affidavit to do so, and the schools they establish must meet state criteria for teaching and operation. See California laws HERE to learn more about how they do it.
Other states operate like California. Louisiana does (education code HERE).
Lots of states do not make these distinctions. But because some do, it is important for families homeschooling in these places to know the difference.
For new and prospective homeschoolers, my advice is to locate a support group in the area, and begin asking questions. Talking to families who are already homeschooling will lead to the names of people and organizations to explain all of the particulars. Only after gathering all information can parents determine the homeschooling options available, and then choose the one best for them.